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Bengals meet with UCLA RB Zach Charbonnet

Charnonnet was a stud with the UCLA Bruins and could be a Day 1 pick.

NCAA Football: Southern California at UCLA Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bengals could shake up their backfield next season. They could opt to release Joe Mixon and save some cap space, but that would give them a clear need at running back.

With that in mind, the Bengals have met with UCLA standout running back Zach Charbonnet.

Charbonnet’s stock has rocketed up as the weeks go by, and he could be a projected first-round pick ahead of the April draft. Cincinnati wasn’t the only team that Charbonnet has met with though and many have met with him informally as well.

The Bengals are widely projected to take a tight end, especially with Hayden Hurst hitting the open market. However, aiming for a running back could be wise as well if they plan to move forward without Mixon.

The 6-foot-1, 220-pound back has good size and ripped through the Pac-12 this season. He ran for 1,359 yards in 10 games and also chipped in 321 receiving yards and 37 receptions. He finished his fourth season with 14 touchdowns.

While he ended his career with UCLA, he started it with Michigan, putting up 726 yards on the ground in 13 games with the Wolverines. Charbonnet is a strong runner and could provide a nice change in the Bengals' attack.

With Chris Evans potentially primed to take a bigger role in the offense as well, making these adjustments and drafting Charbonnet could free up some cap space while also sparking the team’s backfield.

The Bengals have pick No. 28 after making it to the AFC Championship Game. Charbonnet will likely be on the board when they are selecting. Names like Dalton Kincaid and Michael Mayer will be ones to keep an eye on with that first-round pick as well.